Ask Any Hour - What Is A Whole-Home Surge Protector?


Dear Any Hour,

During a recent lightning storm, my neighbor had a power surge in their home that wrecked their oven as well as the circuit board in their furnace -- I didn’t even know that could happen! After they had those items replaced, they had a whole-home surge protector installed. What is that and should I get one on my home?

- Jason L

whole-home surge protector

Most people have heard about surge protectors for electronic equipment such as computers, TVs, etc, but they don’t realize that power surges happen both inside and outside of your home all the time. A whole-home surge protector can help protect your wiring and circuits from fluctuations in power that occur from the power surges.

People usually equate lightning strikes with power surges. And while lighting is the culprit for really massive power surges, power surges of varying intensities are happening both inside and outside your home regularly, which could mean added stress on the wiring, circuits, and electronics in your home.

Today’s washers, dryers, refrigerators, microwaves, and even LED lights also have circuit boards built inside. We have more electronics than ever plugged into our home’s electrical system and each of these can “fry” if they experience frequent or intense power surges.

  1. Frequent Power Surges - 80% of all power surges are generated within the home. That’s right: when it comes to power surges, we create most of them ourselves. The most common culprit is one of the most essential during the summer: the air conditioner. Perhaps you’ve noticed that, when the air conditioner kicks on, the lights in the house might dim or flicker or household appliances might lose some power. Conversely, when the air conditioner shuts off, the lights might shine a little brighter or your appliances might get a surge in power. This can happen on a large scale with a major appliance like an air conditioner, generator, or clothes dryer, or it can happen on a smaller scale, with blow dryers, microwaves, or vacuum cleaners.

    Each of these surges in power puts strain on the delicate circuitry in your appliances and electronics, but it also puts a strain on the wiring in your home. Over time, small but frequent surges can and do break down the integrity of the outlets, switches, light fixtures, meters, panels, breakers, and etc. in the home.

  2. Massive Power Surges - While there isn’t a surge protector that will protect your house against a direct lightning strike, a surge protector will guard against overvoltages from the lines feeding into your home. Whether they are struck by lightning or compromised in other ways, such an overload, it wreaks havoc on your appliances, electronics, and your home’s devices.

So, whether surges in power in your home are caused by nature or by your own appliances, surges are common in every household. It’s a good idea to have a whole-home surge protector installed to help protect your home and your appliances against these regularly occurring surges. While surge protection power strips are effective for local electronics, it’s almost impossible to protect every appliance in the house. When you consider fridges, washers, dryers, microwaves, not to mention personal computers and laptops, modern homes can easily have around $10,000 in unprotected electronics. A quality whole-home surge protector essentially allows only the necessary voltage in the home and keeps the surges at bay, protecting your home and all the electronics inside.

Ask a licensed electrician about a whole-home surge protector that would make the most sense for your needs.


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Author: Amber Smith-Johnson
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Aug 24th 2021

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